Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
State, Government, and Legal Order
William J. Chambliss
Sociologists usually couch the relationship between power and law in terms of whether or not there is a power elite that determines the content and implementation of law. In one sense, the answer is obvious: those in a position to create and implement laws are by definition the ones with the power to do so. In most modern democratic legal systems, the role incumbents capable of creating laws are the legislators and, especially in common law countries, judges. Those in a position to implement the laws are role incumbents in the state bureaucracies. In attempting to unravel the complex relationship between law and power, it is useful to begin by distinguishing between the state and government. Government encompasses people who have achieved their roles, positions, and statuses through election, coercion, or political appointment. State means the role incumbents occupying positions and statuses of career employees. Thus, in this vocabulary, Every ...